Deer Lakes’ extra-inning win over Freeport moves Lancers into playoff position

Friday, April 27, 2018 | 11:30 PM

Andrew Bokulich didn't get his bunt attempts down in the bottom of the ninth inning, but he gladly will take the ultimate result of his at-bat.

Bokulich's ground ball deflected off of second baseman Aidan Skradski's glove, allowing fellow sophomore Trey Darrah to race home from second to give Deer Lakes a 2-1, extra-inning victory over No. 2 Freeport in a Section 1-4A game Friday.

The Lancers (7-5, 4-4) waited out a 45-minute rain delay in the seventh inning and came through with a much-needed section victory over first-place Freeport, dealing the rival Yellowjackets (8-1, 8-1) their first loss of the season in the process.

“To beat a team like that in that sort of fashion, it's just an adrenaline rush,” Bokulich said. “It's just going to be a huge confident boost, not just for me but for the team. We're just going to keep pushing through. Hopefully, we get to playoffs.”

With one out in the ninth, Darragh — playing his first varsity game — reached on a throwing error and stole second after Bokulich fouled off two bunt attempts. Bokulich battled through a seven-pitch at-bat before grounding a Sean Furlong pitch to Skradski. The ball went off Skradski's glove into shallow right-center, giving Darragh plenty of time to score.

“I've been struggling at the plate all year, and I was just like, ‘You know what. I want to put something in play,' ” Bokulich said. “I had a good at-bat, and as I started getting deeper and deeper in the at-bat, I just started feeling so much better because the pressure was on the pitcher and not me. I felt very confident at the plate, and I just did what I needed to do.”

It was an important bounce-back for the Lancers, who lost 12-0 to Knoch on Thursday had slipped to fifth place in the section. Friday's win pulled them even with fourth-place Yough (5-6, 5-5).

“You steal one from those top three teams, Freeport, Knoch and Greensburg Salem, and you feel like you gained one today,” Deer Lakes coach Josh Tysk said. “We're capable. We played these guys well the first time (a 4-2 Freeport win). We just played poor defensively. Today, we had it. We put it together.”

Deer Lakes got a strong pitching effort from southpaw Greg Geis, who gave up a run on three hits in seven innings, walking two and striking out eight. Tyler Smith got the win after striking out four in two innings of relief.

Freeport starter Brodey Cowan matched Geis, allowing a run on six hits in 6 23 innings, walking two and striking out eight.

“We played a clean game for most of the game, until that final inning,” Freeport coach Ed Carr said. “We had our chances. A foot here and there, we might be on top. That's baseball, man. It's hard to stay undefeated.”

With Geis and Cowan pitching the way they did, both teams pushed just a run across. Jake Yaconis, Jake McCaskey and Jake Kelly singled in the bottom of the third inning to load the bases with one out. Cowan's pitch struck Smith in the hip, forcing in a run.

Freeport tied it in the fifth. Gavin Skradski singled with one out, and Aidan Skradski walked with two outs to bring up Cowan, who ripped a line drive to left for an RBI double.

Thunder in the area led to a 45-minute delay in the bottom of the seventh, but Deer Lakes stayed loose and ultimately came up with the win heading into a Monday home date with Greensburg Salem.

“It just feels very good,” Bokulich said. “They're a very good baseball team. We played well. We played tough. We persevered.”

Freeport hosts Indiana in another section date Saturday.

“Hopefully, we just get back to what we were doing at the beginning of the year,” Carr said. “Hopefully, this one's behind us. I looked the team, and there were like four teams out of 129 in the WPIAL that were without a loss. You're not going to go undefeated. The odds are not there. We'll just put it behind us and come back tomorrow.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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